Visa has announced it will join the ranks alongside Mastercard and American Express in categorizing card sales at gun shops. The move was announced Saturday by Visa.
Visa stated that it would create a new merchant code for sales, previously coded as “general merchandise,” for purchases made in gun shops. The merchant code is a new code created by the International Organization for Standardizations. (“IOS”)
Visa’s statement indicated that it would utilize the new IOS code while “ensuring that all legal commerce is protected in accordance with Visa’s long standing rules.” Gun control advocates believe that the merchant code will aid in tracking large purchases that could be used in a mass shooting.
The firearms industry and gun rights advocates see the move as discriminatory as most guns purchased are not used in mass shootings. The move by Visa, which acts as the go-between between issuing banks and merchants, could result in pressure on banks to block sales of firearms using their cards.
The move to the new code was as a result of pressure by pension funds and New York City officials. Merchant codes exist for most every transaction made with a credit card.
Gun control advocates such as New York City mayor Eric Adams state that the code “just makes sense” and others point to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in which the suspect used credit cards to purchase $26,000 in guns and ammunition. Gun rights advocates point to the fallacy of the system, stating that the code only refers to the location, not the purchase itself. An example is a purchase of a gun safe, normally considered to be an act of responsible gun ownership. Such a purchase could be erroneously flagged due to the sale price.
National Rifle Association spokesperson Lars Dalseide stated that the credit card company’s decision is a overture to governmental control of firearms and an eroding of the rights of law abiding Americans.